Written by: Ilene Solomon
This past Friday marked the 3rd anniversary of Abriendo Mentes, and in true Tico style, we celebrated this amazing milestone with a massive fiesta!
As I walked into the Salon Comunal, colorful balloons and bright “Happy Anniversary” signs covered the walls. In one corner, busy Tica mamas prepared plates of arroz con pollo while in the opposite corner, Drew and the other “guys” ensured the sound system was up and running. (By the way, there are currently 4 male volunteers, in addition to Drew, so we have to make a special mention, as this is a milestone in and of itself!) Near the linen-covered tables, some volunteers painted bindis on our students-turned-professional-Bollywood dancers to prepare for their big dance debut. Meanwhile, in the center of the room, other volunteers practiced songs with the Kinder students. And, as always, kids of all ages chased each other and played games anxiously awaiting the start of the party. Looking around, I could not help but feel the love and warmth in that room.
As about 150 people including students, volunteers, parents, partner organizations, and other local supporters filed into the Salon, the Anniversary party began. We kicked off with an opening welcome address from Meradith and Drew, “From our start three years ago with 15 students in an open-air restaurant, to present day operations with 200 participants and four focus programs in two locations, Abriendo Mentes has come a long way since June 8th, 2009.” And boy, is that the truth!
The party continued with performances by the Kinder kids who joyfully belted out their favorite songs such as, “Wheels on the Bus,” “Hokey Pokey,” and “The Months of the Year Macarena.” The bastoneras then took the stage as they flipped and twirled their bright pink batons and wowed the crowd with their impressive synchronization. Finally, the Bollywood dancers amazed us with their fast moving hands, hips and feet. They put so much hard work into perfecting those difficult moves! You could see an abundance of pride on their faces—and ours! These girls definitely have a future in the Bollywood industry if you ask me.
Although Meradith and Drew believed this to be the end of the entertainment, volunteers Rachael and Rebecca took the microphone in hand to give a “fake” announcement. All-of-a-sudden, music started playing on the loud speakers. A confused Meradith began approaching the sound system, but soon sat down as she noticed volunteer after volunteer stand up from their seats and start to dance. To a compilation of Abriendo Mentes favorite songs like Justin Bieber’s “Baby Baby” and Don Omar y Lucenzo’s “Danza Kuduro”, the volunteers put on the first ever AM Flash Mob Dance! Check out the video here. I’m sure you will be very impressed by our dance moves and even more so by volunteer Shannon’s Irish dance solo! In fact, you might be just as surprised as Meradith and Drew.
After the last plate of arroz con pollo was eaten and the final slice of cake was served, we chalked this momentous occasion up as a huge success. We would like to recognize and honor each of you for helping us reach our 3rd year anniversary..and would like to raise a glass of Costa Rican Imperial to cheers AM for many, many more wonderful years!